Kenneth Markle is arguably the most infamous American soldier to have recently served in Korea and is indirectly responsible for the changes to Status of Forces Agreement with the United States military(PDF file).  For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Markle was accused and convicted of sadistically torturing and murdering a Korean prostitute.  Markle has to this day maintained his innocence and claims he was railroaded by the American government in an effort to appease an anti-American sentiment sweeping through Korea at the time. 

A person claiming to be Markle has made comments on ROKDROP denouncing the blog’s negative portrayal of him.  “Kennet Markle” has declared that if the court transcripts were read we would see that he was innocent yet, despite ROKDROP’s request for him to post them, they have still not surfaced.  I am going to try and do my best to be fair and objective using newspaper articles (English) that provide some of Markle’s testimony.  Unfortunately a lot of these are not on the net but I am providing the names of the newspapers, the article titles and the dates.  Where ever possible I will include the links.  I have seen some of the gory pictures in the past but I am not going to spend my time looking for and linking them – I feel it would be an insult to the victim’s family and, if Markle is innocent, an insult to him as well.  Nor will I put up his picture which graces more than a few newspapers for I don’t feel it is my right to violate his privacy in that manner.

This is what I have managed to gather – Markle if you are reading and find any errors please feel free to comment so that corrections can be made or noted.


On October 28, 1992, Yun Kum-i, 26-years old, was found dead in her small rented room in Tongduchon near the US military camp at about 4:30 in the morning by her landlord.  The walls of the room were splattered with her own blood and she had obviously been bludgeoned.  A picture taken of the crime scene showed “her nude body lying upon a sleeping mat, the left side of her face severely battered and numerous bruises on her chest, arms and legs.”  Her body was covered with a white powder that was later identified as laundry detergent.[1]   The Korean media reported her as having been raped, stabbed, and had been sexually violated with a Coke bottle and an umbrella and that she was a waitress at a local disco club.[1] 

On October 30, 1992,   Pvt2 Kenneth L. Markle III, a 20-year-old medic originally from West Virginia, was arrested by Korean police after he entered a disco where he had been seen with Ms. Yun on the night of her murder.  The staff, recognizing him, had summoned the police, who after taking his statement, turned him over to the American military police. [2]  On November 15, Markle’s lawyer, Park Sung-jin, denounced the newspaper reports that she had been raped and stabbed but did admit she had been sexually assaulted with an umbrella and Coke bottle.[1]  He asserted that the  Korean media had misreported numerous things including the US military being uncooperative, Ms. Yun’s occupation (he identified her as a prostitute) and denied Markle had “confessed to torturing and killing” Ms. Yun.  He acknowledged that Markle had said that he “hit her on the forehead with a Coke bottle.”[1]

The situation was rapidly becoming volatile and USFK issued a statement in mid November that all members of the American community were “truly sorry” about her death and expressed condolences to her family, friends and the Korean community.  A USFK spokesman also noted that a preliminary solatium payment had been made to the family and stressed that a “solatium is money paid as a humanitarian gesture for solace but does not constitute an admission of guilt.[1] These payments were generally about $1,000 for injuries and assaults.[5]

So volatile had become public sentiment that in late November Kim Dae-jung, who was running for president for the third time, felt the need to declare the murder a “very regretable incident” which “many Korean citizens are rightfully angry about.”  He added that “in contrast to similar incidents in the past, I think the U.S. armed forces are handling the case with sensitivity and sincerity.”[3]  Despite Kim DJ’s faith in the US armed forces handling the incident the public’s anti-American sentiment continued to grow.  The main gate at Camp Humphreys in Pyoungtaek, where Markle was being held, was closed in anticipation of a large demonstration of 300-500 university students demanding justice.  The small American Air Force detachment at Kwangju Air Base also braced for a demonstration of 100-300 students. [2]

On November 31, 1992, Markle was indicted for Ms. Yun’s murder.  Prosecutor Kim Jun-gyu remarked that the maximum punishment for murder in Korea was death. [4]  Capital punishment in Korea at this time was carried out by hanging or by firing squad.[6]  Kim would not comment on whether he would seek the death penalty if Markle was convicted. [4]  But there were those demanding his death.  Park Soon-kum, co-chairwoman of an alliance of 49 civic and religious groups, declared that “the pride and dignity of our nation is at stake.  We demand stern punishment.”[5]  The alliance had gathered over 30,000 signatures for their petition to have Markle placed in a Korean prison.

The victim’s family also filed a petition asking for $437,500 as compensation for her death and an additional $125,000 for funeral and other expenses for a total of $562,500.  They claimed the government should compensate them “because the defendant was killed in a cruel crime by a U.S. soldier.”[5]   


Markle, represented by Kim Jong-pyo, had his first hearing on February 17, 1993, in Seoul before a three-judge panel.  His mother and father were also present having been flown in from the United States and provided lodging at the Dragon Hill Lodge all paid for by the US Army.  An Army spokesman said it was being doing “because we feel that is appropriate.”[7][16]  This may have been partially due to Markle’s father stating in an interview a few months prior that he felt his son was “being ignored by the U.S. government.”[7]

Outside the court house about 200 students and protesters chanted and waved banners denouncing the American government and military.[6]  Some of these Anti-American protests are descibed in (Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 1993). 

Inside the packed court house Markle denied he had tortured and killed Ms. Yun.  He insisted that she had attacked him with a Coke bottle and that he was only defending himself when he struck her back.[7]  “I struck her four times, but I’m denying she was dead when I left the room.”[6]  He claimed that he afterwards tried to revive her.  He also denied trying to have sex with her and alluded to another soldier that he said may have been responsible for her death.  He claimed that he and the other soldier had argued over who would take her home.[6]

At Markle’s second hearing on March 10, about 300 students protested in front of the courthouse chanting “Drive out U.S. soldiers to restore national pride” and waving banners demanding a stern punishment for Markle.  According to the  police Ms. Yun’s room was splattered with blood and had been covered with detergent in an apparent effort to destroy evidence and fingerprints.  The victim had been raped and stabbed repeatedly with a bottle. Police and prosecutors said her head was severely battered and there were other wounds on her body.  She had been raped and stabbed repeatedly with a soft drink bottle and a bottle had also been forced into her vagina and an umbrella into her anus.[8][9]  According to  

“Markel shoved in an umbrella into her anus. The umbrella was inserted about 27 cm (about 10 inches) into her anus, almost reaching her rectum. Even that was not enough for Markel, he shoved in 2 beer bottles in Yoon’s womb and the cola bottle was already half inserted. To remove evidence, he broke some fire matches and made her bite them with her mouth, and sprayed white laundry detergent all over her body.”

Markle gave a statement similar to the one he had given at his first hearing but when he testified that he had hit Ms. Yun in self-defense after she had attacked him, the victim’s mother burst into tears and screamed, “Murderer!”  As she was led out of the courtroom dozens of students demanded that she be allowed to stay.  Judge Byun Dong-gul warned that the defendant had the right to defend himself in court and that any further disruptions of the trial by the observers would be punished.[8]

This hearing, however, he appears to have given more information.  For the first time the name of the soldier he suggested might be responsible for her death was mentioned – Spc. Jason Lambert.  According to Markle he watched Lambert enter Ms. Yun’s room after he left.  He also said the Lambert indicated to him that Yun was his girlfriend and was angry that Markle had gone to her room.  Markle claimed he had not known the woman before that night, but saw her staggering drunkenly down a street in the city after he left the club.  He offered to help her get home and she accepted.  He said they were confronted on the street by the soldier he identified as Lamber, who said he knew the woman and would take her home.  Markle said he refused, and Lambert left.   Lambert returned a short time later and demanded that “I come outside and fight him.” Markle said they did fight briefly and when he went back inside the room Yun began slapping and clawing him, inflicting several minor wounds.  He said he took the bottle from her and hit her “only hard enough to make her stop.”  He said she fell to the floor unconscious and bleeding.  He then tried to rouse her, but couldn’t.[9]

According to Markle’s testimony, when he left Ms. Yun was partially clothed – “wearing pants”.  Outside, he said he found Lambert waiting in a nearby alley.  “He said she was a whore and he was going to have sex with her,” Markle testified.  “I told him she was drunk and unconscious and it wouldn’t do any good to go into her room.”  Markle said he watched Lambert enter the room, then left the area, returning to his barracks about 4 a.m.  Asked by his attorney,  Kim Jong-pyo, if he thought someone else had hit the woman Markle answered, “Yes, Lambert.” and then gave several reasons why he believed Lambert was responsible:[9]

1.   “He told his friends he wanted to have sex with her.”

2.  “I watched Lambert go into her room after I left.”

3.  “In his statement (to investigators), he admitted he went to her room 10 minutes after I left.”

4.  “I saw pictures of the scene the way authorities found it and (the room) was not in the same condition as when I left.”

5.  “I saw pictures of the victim’s body, and it was not in the same condition as when I left.”

6.  “Lambert knew the exact condition and location of her body and bragged about it to his friends.”

Prosecuter Kim Jong-ki said Markle had failed a polygraph test and that his statement in court was inconsistent with a written statement he made to Korean police after his arrest.[9] An American military investigator testified as to the results of the polygraph test.  “Overall results indicated that he (Markle) was not truthful.”[10]  Markle countered that he had signed the police statement but it was written in Korean.  “I could not read it and I have no idea what it said.”[9]

The next hearing was held on March 25, 1993 and 22-year-old Spc. Lambert was put on the stand.  Lambert was appraised of Markle’s accusation that he (Lambert) had tortured and murdered Ms. Yun.   When asked if  he was responsible for the brutal activities Lamber declared,  “It was not me.”  Lambert admitted to knowing the victim and of having sex with her several times before the night of her murder.  He said that he left while Markle and the victim were still in the room.[10]

Apparently in Prosecutor Kim Jung-ki’s closing arguments he argued that the “viciousness of the crime” required a life sentence for Markle but this was not viewed favorable by many Koreans.[10]  The Joint Committee for Measures Against the Murder of Yun Kum-i demanded Markle be given the death penalty declaring that  life imprisonment “runs counter to sentiments of the people.”[11]  And in their written statement: “The truth must be determined in full detail and the defendant should be put to death.”[12]


On April 14, 1993, the three-judge panel found Markle guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.  Judge Byon Dong-gul explained the ruling as “The cruel and inhumane nature of the crime warrants that the defendant should be punished severely.  In addition, the defendant showed no sign of repentance during court hearing.”[13]  He also noted that Markle had “taken  no action to make reparation to the victim’s family.” and thus was sentenced so severely.[15]  Judge Byon said Yun bled to death as result of injuries inflicted by Markle and the court had “no legal problem in finding the defendant guilty of murder.”[15]  I am not sure how accurate this is because I have only seen it here, but supposedly Markle’s fingerprints were on a bottle that was inside Ms. Yun.

The Judge did noted that Lambert’s testimony was inconsistent. He “had attempted to hide some facts in the case there is a very slim chance someone else abused the victim” after Markle left the room, “but the fact that Lambert lied does not necessarily mean he was the criminal.”[13][15] 

After hearing the verdict Markle’s father said, “I thought they (the judges) were harsh.  I don’t think they have done enough to try to find the real truth.”[13]  Markle, on the other hand was much more verbose and declared the verdict “complete and utter nonsense” and that his father said he planned to appeal.[14]  

“People say justice is supposed to be blind.  The people who reached this decision are blind.  I am absolutely not guilty of murdering her or of any of the other charges against me.”  The three-judge panel “did not under any circumstance view the case in an unbiased manner.  The protests and demonstration all had a bearing on the decision.”[15]

As the reality of his son’s sentence settled in Markle’s father told the Associated Press, “The kid’s hanging out over there half a world away from anything he knows…he gets himself into some trouble, and the first thing they do is throw the book at him…They don’t ask questions.” He also claimed that the military dropped their investigation prematurely because of personality conflicts between his son and his superiors.  Jim Coles, U.S. Army spokesman in Seoul, denied the accusation and stated it was “A textbook investigation to the letter…It was a thorough and complete investigation.”[16]  It should be noted that the military paid for the defense attorneys, one round trip for the parents and five days in a hotel.

Markle’s parents admitted that their son had clearly done wrong and may be guilty of manslaughter but emphasized that he was not a murderer.[16]  Their efforts to make their case known to all was heroic.  They hired their own lawyers, wrote a letter asking President Bill Clinton for assistance and spent a total of six weeks in Korea (five trips) trying to find leads that might aid their son.[18]  They also appealed the case in Korea.  While waiting for his appeals to finish, Markle was held at Camp Humphrey’s confinement facility.

On August 23, 1993, Ms. Yun’s family received more than 71 million won ($93,889) as compensation from the American government(-not sure if it was solely from the Americans as USFK said in February that the costs would be shared by the Korean and American governments).[17]  It is interesting to note that Yonhap news reported the compensation as being equivalent to $86,000.[21]

In late October Markle’s father was again interviewed and said:  “I don’t think the case has been handled properly by the Korean court, but I understand the court system here is different than ours,” he said.  “We can’t do anything about that.  But the Army has mishandled this and my son has been railroaded from the very beginning.  I do plan to do something about that.  I feel like I’m in a war.  My mission is to make someone listen.  I’m frustrated and disgutsted that things have gone this far without the Army doing anything.”[18]

Among his many charges of ineptness on the military’s part was “prejudice” shown against his son even before he was charged with murder that his father said he believed “carried over into the Army’s investigation.”[18]  Markle echoed this with his own complaints that the Army failed to pursue leads that implicated another soldier – which seems to imply Lambert.[19]  It is interesting to note that, according to an article in Military Law Review Summer 2009 (PDF File), Lieutenant Colonel Kevin M. Boyle, Markle’s defense attorney, said in an interview in 2007 that Markle had covered Ms. Yun’s body with washing detergent under the impression that it was like lye and would help remove traces of evidence.

“That’s all we want, justice,” Mr. Markle said.  “We haven’t found it, yet.  No matter what it costs, I won’t be quiet until we do.”[18]

On November 27, 1993, Markle went before his third session of his appeal.  (Note a lot of this is directly copied or paraphrased from the original article)

In a 40 minute impassioned appeal to the Seoul High Court Markle told the judges “Jason Lambert knows more about this case than he has said.”  Markle began with an apology “to the entire Republic of Korea and, especially to (Yun’s) mother” for his involvement in the crime.  But, he added, “she was alive when I left her room.  I did not have sex with her and did not intend to.  I did not sexually abuse her.  I had only tried to help her.”  In Markle’s earlier trial the lower court had ruled that Yun was too small to present a threat to Markle but according to Markle, the night before her murder, Yun had a fight with Lambert in a bar and that “it took four grown men to restrain her and take her from the bar.”   Markle also claimed, “Her friends nicknamed her ‘Psycho’ and said she had a drug and alcohol problem and became violent when she was drunk.  She weighed 165 pounds, more than I do.  She was not small and fragile.  She was drunk, angry and dangerous.”[20]

The MP reports verified Markle’ story of the fight between Lambert and Yun.  According to it, two Korean policemen and two MPs had to eject Yun from the bar.  Lambert’s clothing as recorded in the report was different from the clothing they obtained when he was requested to give it to the investigators.  Lambert ‘gave them clothes he was not wearing that night,” declared Markle. [20]

Markle also noted that semen found during her autopsy was type A where as Markle’s blood is type O.  Furthermore, the military doctor who conducted the autopsy said that “for semen to remain” where it was found in her body, “it would have had to have been deposited there at or shortly after the time of her death.”[20]

Markle again asserted that Lambert knew more than he was telling.  “Lambert knew her, I didn’t.  Lambert was outside her room when I left.  He told me she was a prostitute who would do anything for money.  He told me he was going in her room to have sex with her.  I watched him go into her room and I left the area.”[20]

“She was alive when I left.  Her neighbor saw me leave her room and heard her groaning long after I left.  That proves someone else was in her room after I left.”[20]

On December 16, 1993, with Korean students yelling “Punish the soldier! Punish the murderer!” and “Protect our right to independence!  Drive the Americans out! Fight until the last American has gone home!”, the Korean court made its decision. [21][22]  Chief Judge Yi Pum-chu spent 20 minutes reading the decision of the three-judge panel through an interpreter whose English was frequently unintelligible to English-speakers in the courtroom.  The judge twice corrected the translation.[22]

Yi said they could not accept any of the reasons Markle had appealed the Seoul District Court conviction.  He said that it was “not reasonable to think another person who came into the room and found the victim bleeding” would have committed any part of the crime.  He also said that a complete review of the district court trial had been made and no errors were found.  The sentence was reduce because the Yun family had been compensated.[22] Also Seattle Times, December 16, 1993.

Markle’s father was happy but not satisfied.  “Obviously (15 years) is better than life, but I don’t like it.  Everything that had to do with the evidence in the case was rejected, but when it came down to paying off the family, the sentence was reduced.  I have a problem with that.”[22]

On April 28, 1994, the Korean Supreme Court upheld the 15-year sentence.   Justice Park Chun-so said Markle “committed the crime deliberately and even perpetrated brutal acts.  In view of the motive, details and means of the crime, the act cannot be regarded as either legitimate or committed in self-defense.”

Korean High court upoholds GI’s 15-year prison term

On April 29 the Korean Supreme Court upheld the sentence.  “It can be confirmed that the defendant deliberately committed the murder and sexually abused the victim’s body, and his actions cannot be taken as the result of excess in self-defense,” the panel declared.  [23][24]  With this final appeal lost Markle was to be handed over to the Korean authorities to serve his time in Chonan.  In a desperate attempt his father  sued the pentagon to keep his son from being transferred but his efforts failed when US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist rejected an emergency petition.  Markle’s father claimed that the American authorities eager to ease tensions in South Korea denied Markle a fair trial.[25]


In mid-May Markle was transferred to Chonan and within a month had written a letter home.  Markle’s father described his son’s life in prison.  “So far there have not been any problems so far with any of the Korean prisoners or the guards.”  Markle’s father said his son’s life had changed dramatically.  “Laundry must be washed by hand.  There is no washing machine.  There is a dryer which does not function.  Laundry is washed, rinsed and rung out by hand, then hung on a line to dry.  We have to supply the clothes pins. ” He also noted that the inmates were only allwed to take hot showers on Sundays.[26]

Markle appears to have been a fairly good prisoner and stayed out of trouble except this one incident which took place on May 5, 1994 when Markle and another prisoner, Richard Duff, became enraged after letters they had written were not sealed and mailed.  According to Markle’s father, “The guards read and censor prisoner’s mail and they had already cleared letters my son and Duff had to mail that day, but, he refused to seal the letters and mail them because he said it was a holiday.” (It was Children’s Day).  The two prisoners, angered, began throwing things at a plexiglass partition, breaking it.  They were subsequently locked up for 57 days in small solitary cells.  “Their wrists and ankles were manacled and their upper arms were tied with ropes that allowed them only enough use of their hands to eat.”[27]

In January 1996, Markle and Duff were given an additional 8 months to his prison sentence (prosecution wanted 15 months) for breaking a plexiglass wall devider and using a fire extinquisher against prison personnel.  Judge Kim Myong-jae said, “The accused clearly violated the rules of the prison” but because they were young and had been soldiers helping to defend South Korea they were given light sentences.[28][29]


In January 2003, Lee So-hee, Secretary-General, National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea, wrote “From ‘liberator’, ‘ally’, and ‘blood brother’ to ‘occupying force’ and ‘source of all evil’could Korean public opinion be split so differently on the issue of the United States? This inevitably means that there must be a concealed and distorted history.” I am not sure about all the facts in her examples but I did notice that her account of Ms. Yun’s murder incorrectly identifies Lambert.

Markle’s conviction has been used as a tool by not only anti-American student activist but by teachers as well.  A Korean middle school teacher,  I won’t give you her name – its in the article (Los Angeles Times July 12, 2003), stated she showed the picture of Ms. Yun’s mutilated body to her students

…”because it was being widely shown on the Internet and at protests as part of the debate over the Status of Forces Agreement, which governs U.S. soldiers in South Korea.  “This is nothing that they couldn’t have seen elsewhere,” said XX, a soft-spoken 29-year-old who hardly looks older than some of her students. “Rather than giving our students canned education, we want to encourage them to think about what is going on in the world.” 


After requesting parole seven times, Markle was finally released on August 14, 2006, when the parole board determined he was not likely to commit another crime.  He was, upon release, put on an airplane and returned to the United States.

 Lost Nomad blogged about Markle’s release (unfortunately that site is gone now) as did ROKDROP (November 20, 2006) which has a very impressive comment section that is still receiving posts.    Just recently (July 27, 2009) someone claiming to be Markle left this post at ROKDROP.

 “…For the record, I didn’t kill ANYONE. I was in the vicinity. Had contact of a non-sexual nature with the young woman and left the area. I do not know who committed the crime. I was identified as being seen with her, was arrested, interrogated and bullied into signing a confession I could not read or understand. Thus, the basis of my conviction. I was 19 years old, scared, alone and helpless. I never had a chance of “proving” anything, let alone my innocence. I’ve made very little noise about the ordeal since I’ve returned to the United States. Believe me, I wanted to. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, file lawsuits, get the media involved… Anything to “prove” I didn’t do it. What good would it do me now? The 14 years are gone. I can live for the future or let the past kill me. I chose the former. That might not be the right choice, but I took some good advice and chose not to let the past dictate my future. I can sleep at night with my choice….” 

I guess it is up to you, the reader, to decide if Markle was truly a cold-blooded and sadistic killer or merely a scapegoat sacraficed to appease anti-American sentiment.


[1] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “U.S. soldier to be charged with murder in ROK,” November 15, 1992

[2] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Seoul moving toward murder indictment of GI,” November 23, 1992

[3] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Stay in S. Korea, Kim says to U.S.,” November 22, 1992

[4] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “ROK Indicts GI for murder,” December 2, 1992

[5] European Stars and Stripes, “Koreans demand stiff sentence for accused GI,” February 16, 1993

[6] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Solder’s murder trial opens amid Seoul protests,” February 19, 1993

[7] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Army Paying to bring parents to GI’s trial,” February 23, 1993

[8] European Stars and Stripes, “Tearful outburst disrupts GI’s trial in S. Korea,” March 11, 1993

[9] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Markle blames another soldier in murder trial,” March 12, 1993

[10] European Stars and Stripes, “Life Term sought for U.S. soldier in South Korean torture slaying,” March 25, 1993
[11] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Korea Protest Group Wants Death For GI,” April 3, 1993

[12] European Stars and Stripes, “Koreans call for soldier’s execution,” April 10, 1993

[13] European Stars and Stripes, “Koreans convict soldier amid anti-U.S. chants,” April 15, 1993

[14] Daily News Record (Harrisonburg, Virginia), April 15, 1993

[15]  Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Markle denies guilt, says South Korean court biased,” April 16, 1993

[16] European Stars and Stripes, “Convicted GI’s dad assails Army Probe,” April 17, 1993

[17] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Victim’s kin get $93,000”, August 29, 1993

[18] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Markle’s father raps Army’s handling of case”, October 31, 1993

[19] European Stars and Stripes, “GI assails Army in murder appeal,” November 26, 1993

[20] Pacific Stars and Stripes, GI pleads for freedom in Seoul,” November 27, 1993

[21] European Stars and Stripes, “Soldier’s life term cut to 15 years,” December 17, 1993

[22] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “ROK court reduces GI’s sentence to 15 years,” December 18, 1993

[23] European Stars and Stripes, “Korean high court upholds GI’s 15-year prison term,” April 30, 1994

[24] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Court upholds Markle prison sentence,” May 1, 1994

[25] European Stars and Stripes, “Father fails to keep GI from prison in S. Korea,” May 17, 1994

[26] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Dad says GI safe in Korean jail,” June 16, 1994

[27] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “US GI may face extra prison time,” December 17, 1995

[28] European Stars and Stripes, “GI’s jail term lengthened,” January 17, 1996

[29] Pacific Stars and Stripes, “Soldier in prison for killing gets additional time for fracas,” January 18, 1996